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minently appears in, Forgiveness of Sin? (For He is faid to be Merciful and gracious, flow to Anger, and abundant in Goodness, referving Mercy for Thousands, and forgiving Iniquity, Tranfgreffion, and Sin.) Can we look back upon the old World, and confider how long his Spirit ftrove with Man, ftopping the Course of Vengeance, as long as it wou'd ftand with the Honour of his Justice to forbear? Can we recall the many and great Provocations the Ifraelites gave Him in the Wilderness, and that He notwithstanding bore with them fourty Years? Can we turn our Thoughts upon our own daily prefumptuous Sins, and at the fame Time upon God's waiting, that He may have Mercy? Can we reflect upon that infinite Distance between Him and us, and his Readiness to remit all that we have done in open Defiance almost of his Divine Majesty? Can we think of that ineftimable Benefit, the Redemption of Mankind, that stupendous Way of reconciling us to Himfelf by the precious Blood of his only begotten Son, who gave us fo eminent a Pattern of Meeknefs, Patience, and Long-Suffering; Whom not the greatest Agonies, not the most bitter, and ignominious Death cou'd divert from being follicitous, and praying for, not only those who brought, but even inflicted the Punishment, he
underwent, upon Him? Can we call to Mind all this, and not forgive one another light Offences?
One of the best Reasons we can give for the Refiftance of Evil is, that it is the readiest Way to prevent it. But if God fhou'd take this Course, and not call back his Anger, but ftir up all his Wrath; if He, to put a Stop to the Growth of Sin, fhou'd immediately cut off a Sinner, our Destruction wou'd be as well very fudden, and general, as very deplorable. For we all, by the Corruption of our Nature, aggravated by the most infolent Presumption of daily repeated Sins, have fo far offended Him, that if He fhou'd be extreme to mark all that is done amifs, we must be of all Creatures living most miserable. But we find, that even those, who prefume most on his Kindness, and seem to make his Mercy, which fhou'd lead them to Repentance, the Occafion of their finning; even Thofe, who fin the more because his Grace abounds, God, who is flow to Anger, and of great Goodness, is pleased to bear with, as long as it is confiftent with his Juftice.
Let us therefore ftrive to be like God, who when He defcended in the Cloud, pass'd before Mofes, and proclaim'd his Name, made use of Words to represent Himself, not expreffive of
Majesty, Dominion, and Power, [Such as, Who Stretched out the Heavens like a Curtain, who layeth the Beams of his Chambers in the Waters, who maketh the Clouds his Chariot, who walketh upon the Wings of the Wind, who maketh his Angels Spirits, and his Minifters a flaming Fire, and the like; but Mercy and Tenderness, [The Lord, the Lord God, Merciful and Gracious &c.
And here it may be obferv'd, and it will be, I believe, generally acknowledg'd, that a generous Clemency, fo far as is confiftent with the publick Good, is a most amiable, and commendable Quality in God's Delegates here on Earth; in Thofe, who are entrusted with the Administration of the Laws, and who imitate the Lenity of them, by allowing even to great Offenders the Sanctuary, and Protection due to Innocence, till evident Proof, and abfolute Neceffity shall extort the Sentence of Condemnation.
And let it be the Praise, and Glory of us all to be ready to forgive one another, as God for Christ's Sake forgave us. For there can be no furer Pledge to our Souls, that our Sins are forgiven by God, than that Readiness, which we find in ourselves, to remit those that have injur'd us. If we forgive Men their Trefpaffes, our Heavenly Father will also forgive us.
a Mat. 6. 14.
Says the Son of Syrac: One Man beareth Hatred against another, and doth He feek Pardon from the Lord? He fheweth no Mercy to a Man, who is like Himfelf, and doth he ask Forgiveness for his own Sins? If He that is but Flesh, nourisheth Hatred, who will intreat for Pardon of His Sins? Unless therefore we, who stand in fo much Need of a favourable, will make the rigourous Judgment our Choice; or unless we can be fo extravagantly prefumptuous, as to think of finding Mercy, when we have shewn none, let us not refift Evil, when Forbearance is more becoming, and wou'd, as in many Cafes it wou'd, be a more effectual Remedy. — And this I fhall urge as
Another Motive fufficient, one wou'd think, if we had not fo great a Pattern to copy after, to prevail upon us to obferve the Duty enjoin'd.
Oftentimes the Malice of an Enemy, which is by Resistance more enflam'd, is by Meekness affwag'd. This, I know, is quite contrary to the Senfe of Men, who are unable to moderate their Paffions, or preferve their Temper. They place their Security in, what gives them prefent Satisfaction, Revenge. Which only makes their Safety so much the lefs, the more it increases their Enemy's Fear; for this ftirs up the Fire,
a Eccluf. 28.
which, in all Probability, wou'd otherwise have been extinguish'd. -But we find the oppofite Effects of Patience, or Forbearance; which always leffens the Contention, and either makes a Friend, or puts the Enemy to Shame. So much Good-Nature, and Benevolence is there in the most confiderable Part of Mankind, that they are backward in oppreffing those that are ready to fuffer; or give Ground for Complaints to fuch as are unwilling to make any. So much Force and Prevalence there is in Compliance, that every one, who has not entirely fhaken off his Humanity, must furely be wrought upon by it. This can scarce fail to influence the worst Difpofition, and soften the hardest Temper.
So that we perceive this Virtue, which, many perfwade themselves, moft fubjects Men to Contempt and Affronts, is most likely to prove their greatest Defence. Which we shou'd be perhaps more fully convinc'd of, if we wou'd let this Confideration go along with go along with us; That it is the Fear of the injur'd Party's Refentments, which commonly induceth the Injurers to pursue their Hatred. But when Those are willing to forget the Affronts, that have been put upon them, These can hardly be fo ungenerous as to repeat them. Yet it has been made an Obfervation, and perhaps justly, that though the Injured forgive,